Eddie Swartzentruber was raised in an Amish community in Minnesota but ran away at 17. Now, he's shedding light about what his previous lifestyle was like — on TikTok.
The Rochester, Minn., man fled his home in the middle of a "brutally cold" night on January 8, 2014, he said in one of his videos. In the clip, he explained that he made the decision while throwing down hay one night, and thinking to himself, "this is just not necessary." He ran away a couple days later.
"I feel like if you would think it out for a long time, you probably wouldn't do it," he told CBS News.
In addition to leaving behind his family and the life he knew, Swartzentruber left home without a social security card, a driver's license and had very little money, according to NBC affiliate KARE. Now, less than a decade later, he has his own construction company, is happily married, and has over a hundred thousand TikTok followers.
Swartzentruber told CBS News that as the Amish community "is so closed off," there's a lot of "mystery" surrounding what life is actually like on the inside.
"Most of my videos are just responding to [a] question that I get," he told KARE, adding that "answering a question will spark 100 other questions."
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One topic he's revisited a number of times revolves around dentistry. Although Swartzentruber — whose first languages were Dutch and German — said in one video that there is somebody "that will rip a tooth out of your mouth if it's decaying," it's "not an actual dentist."
"And when I brushed my teeth, we didn't have toothpaste," he added. "I used baking soda."
Other cultural differences include watches — they're allowed, so long as they're not battery-operated — and cell phones, which he says people don't have to use "for the same reason they don't have to buy toilet paper: the mailman."
Sunscreen, he adds, isn't really necessary because people "never show their skin."
"Well, maybe sometimes if a young person feels very rebellious, they'll go ahead and show some ankle," he quipped in one video.
"They are definitely not allowed. You either wear your regular pants to bed or you wear no pants at all," he said in one video.
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Asked if he'd ever seen his parents kiss, the TikToker was emphatic in his response.
"No, absolutely not," he said in another video. "That would be considered a scandal."
Although he's found thousands of fans on TikTok, the "amount of humor" in his videos "rubs some Amish the wrong way," he told KARE.
Still, he told the outlet that he still has a relationship with his family and he has gone back to visit the community, which "will always have a special place in my heart."
And the videos have had another added benefit: they've brought more people to his business.
"There's been people that call me and say, 'Nobody's going to take you seriously, don't do these TikToks, they look weird,'" he said in an interview with Roofing Contractor Magazine. "[But] people see me on TikTok, they Google me because they're curious, and they're like, 'Oh, yeah, our roof is leaking.'"